The Senate reconvened at 2:34 p.m. to hear the final portion of arguments from Mr. Trump’s legal team, presented by lawyer Bruce Castor.
Castor began by rebuffing the characterization that an insurrection had even taken place in the U.S. Capitol, saying “clearly there was no insurrection. Insurrection is a term of art, it’s defined in the law. It involves taking over a country, a shadow government, taking the TV stations over and having some plan on what you’re going to do.”
He also chastised Democrats for failing to connect the assault to Mr. Trump, saying the “only question that needs to be answered is was Donald Trump responsible for inciting the violence that came to this building?”
The Pennsylvania attorney also repeated the claim that the managers selectively edited and manipulated the evidence they presented.
“Political hatred has no place in the American justice system and certainly no place in the Congress of the United States,” he said.
Castor played video clips of President Joe Biden at rallies and in speeches declaring his administration will stand against violence and for law-and-order, juxtaposing them with video of Democrats that had been played throughout the day.
“Make no mistake, and I will repeat it now and any time I’m ever asked, January 6 was a terrible day for our country. The attack on this building shocked us all,” Castor said. “President Trump did not incite or cause the horrific violence that occured on January 6, 2021. They know that.”
Castor said evidence that Mr. Trump did not incite the violence at the Capitol lies with his “admiration” for law enforcement and distaste for rioters and political violence.
“His long-standing hatred for violent protectors and his love for law and order is on display, worn on his sleeve every single day he served at the White House,” he said.
Castor called Mr. Trump the most pro-police and anti-mob president in history. However, it took three days for the White House to lower the flag for the Capitol Police officer who died after suffering injuries during the events of January 6.
Castor also attempted to clean aup Mr. Trump’s remarks at the rally on the morning of January 6, portions of which were played by the House managers in their presentation. Castor said the former president was merely warning Republican senators and House members could face primary challengers if they didn’t object to the tallying of votes, not stoking violence.
“The first way that the House managers presented and wanted you to conclude, that’s the criminal way,” he said. “But what the president said was the American way.”
While Castor sought to demonstrate the violence at the Capitol was premeditated and did not occur at the urging of Mr. Trump, he failed to note the former president repeatedly took to Twitter to invite his supporters to Washington to rally January 6.
“The January 6 speech did not cause the riots. The president did not cause the riots,” he said. “He neither explicitly or implicitly encouraged the use of violence or lawless action but in fact called for peaceful exercise of every American’s First Amendment rights to peacefully assemble and petition their government for redress of grievances.”
Castor admitted to another point of ignorance, too: He isn’t sure whether his own testimony is under oath.
“I don’t know if we’re under oath here,” Castor said during his arguments.
Castor attempted to defend Mr. Trump’s phone conversation with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, saying there is “nothing untoward” about the former president speaking with a state’s top elections official. During the call, Mr. Trump urged Raffensperger to “find” 11,780 votes and said “there’s nothing wrong with saying that, you know, um, that you’ve recalculated.” The former president lost to Mr. Biden by 11,779 votes.
“Let us be clear. This trial is about far more than President Trump,” Castor said. “It is about silencing and banning the speech the majority does not agree with. It is about canceling 75 million Trump voters and criminalizing political viewpoints. That is what this trial is really about.”
After less than three hours of the 16 in all allotted to them, Castor then rested the case in defense of Mr. Trump.
“This concludes the formal defense of the 45th president of the United States to the impeachment article filed by the House of Representatives, ” he said.
The Senate is now in a brief recess.
— Melissa Quinn and Kathryn Watson